NHL: Edmonton Oilers and Buffalo Sabres eager to maintain their impressive starts
It has been an intriguing first few weeks of the new season, and there have been many standout performances, including Joel Eriksson, who completed a hat-trick in overtime for the Minnesota Wild against the Winnipeg Jets. We will look ahead to two weekend games — Las Vegas Golden Knights v Edmonton Oilers, and the Buffalo Sabres v Boston Bruins. Check out our thoughts below.
Edmonton Oilers see off Anaheim Ducks but face potential Mike Smith blow
The Oilers, at the time of writing, have enjoyed an unbeaten start to their campaign in the Pacific with a 3-0 record. Although they required every ounce of grit and determination to edge past the Ducks earlier this week, they suffered an untimely injury blow. Mike Smith — who had stopped 11-of-15 shots — was forced off with an apparent injury.
Smith headed straight for the dressing room, and he was replaced by Mikko Koskinen. The Finn spared the Oilers’ blushes as he pulled off 20 saves to ensure the win for the Oilers. However, with tougher tests around the corner, the Oilers will be hoping Smith isn’t out for too long.
Las Vegas Golden Knights in unfamiliar position
For the Golden Knights, there has been some soul-searching done over the past few weeks. Heading into the current round of fixtures, the Golden Knights — who reached the 2018 Stanley Cup finals — are in sixth position with a 1-1 record. But they were rather ordinary last week when they succumbed to a 6-2 defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings.
Golden Knights deliver important Mark Stone injury update
Golden Knights have confirmed that captain Mark Stone won’t require surgery for a lower-body injury sustained against the Kings. It is unclear when Stone will play again, and it is a big blow considering he was the team’s top scorer with 61 points last season. The forward group is light of cover, as left-wing Max Pacioretty sustained a fracture against the Kings.
Las Vegas Golden Knights v Edmonton Oilers: A tale of the tape
The head-to-head record can sometimes be a good gauge of how things may pan out on the ice. And at home, the Vegas Golden Knights have recorded four wins from six meetings with the Oilers. While it has been a slightly sticky start for the Golden Knights, fans will be hoping the franchise get back on track soon.
Buffalo Sabres hit their stride quickly
The Sabres have caught the eye this term, and their 5-2 thrashing of the Vancouver Canucks earlier this week took their record to 3-0. After going a goal down, Jeff Skinner and Tage Thompson took the game away from the Canucks, as they scored within 23 seconds of each other. The Sabres have achieved a 3-0 record for the first time since 2008.
Not only, but they have completed a 3-0 record for only the fifth time in the franchise’s history. And Kyle Okposo, who scored, his 200th NHL goal against the Canucks, was rather philosophical after the victory. He said: “You go through ups and downs, and you got to keep this momentum when you have it.”
Meanwhile, the Sabres will be reunited with a familiar face when they face the Bruins. Goaltender Linus Ullmark joined the Bruins on a four-year $20million contract in free agency, and he could face his former employers this weekend. Could Ullmark come back to haunt his old side?
Jake DeBrusk facing make-or-break season with the Boston Bruins
Having come off the back of a torrid season last campaign with the Bruins, Jake DeBrusk may feel like he has a point to prove. DeBrusk netted just five times, and he found himself jettisoned from his second line left wing spot by Taylor Hall. However, after scoring in the 3-1 victory over the Dallas Stars last weekend, better times lie ahead for DeBrusk.
The 25-year-old looks hungrier after pressing the reset button, and it will be fascinating to see how he gets on. And Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy lavished praise on DeBrusk. He said: “When Jake is in a good place he’s got personality, he’s good for our locker room.” DeBrusk will be hoping to follow up with his display with another important contribution against the Sabres.
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